The neurotransmitter serotonin is implicated in mood regulation, but the underlying mechanisms by which this regulation is brought about remains unclear. In March 28 Nature, Cornelius Gross and colleagues from Columbia University, New York, show that the serotonin1A receptor acts during development to establish normal anxiety-like behavior in the adult.

Gross et al. generated precise time- and tissue-specific gene knockouts in mice and observed that expression of the serotonin1A receptor primarily in the hippocampus and cortex — but not in the raphe nuclei — was sufficient to rescue the behavioral phenotype of the knockout mice. In addition, they used the conditional nature of the receptor expression to show that the presence of serotonin1A receptor during the early postnatal period is required to establish normal anxiety-like behavior in the adult (Nature 2002, 416:396–400).

"The discovery that anxiety is linked to the need for serotonin...

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